How giving up social media transformed this Irish cyclist

Posted on: January 18th, 2019

One man explains how his bike riding and his enjoyment of cycling improved in ways he never would have realised when he gave up social media.


We got an interesting email from a reader a few days ago asking whether we’d ever thought of doing a piece about the negative impact of social media on cyclists’ ability to enjoy their bike more, socialise better and have better quality sleep.

He said he’d given up Facebook and Twitter recently and couldn’t believe how more relaxed and fresher he felt and how the clutter and time wasting it had taken away from his life had really enhanced his cycling.

So instead of us writing a story about him, we asked him to write one about himself.

He has explained under five headings how ditching Facebook and Twitter has enhanced his enjoyment of cycling and was helping to make him better.


Time management

With a busy lifestyle including working full time, having kids and trying to cram is as much cycling as I can, I suspected social media – especially Facebook – was wasting lots of my time every day.

And it’s only since I’ve given it up that I realise how much extra time I have on my hands.

I think I was addicted to Facebook and I suspect a lot of people are. So having given it a break for a while I notice I squander less time.

This has meant I have more time to train and, crucially, I also feel the quality of my rest and recovery has improved.

I think being constantly tuned into social media is more taxing on the mind – and therefore the body – than we realise.

I tend to wind down easier after training and really enjoy my downtime more and feel the benefit of it now that I’m giving Facebook and Twitter a miss.


Coaching information overload

I raced for a few years many years ago and gave up the bike for a long time before coming back to it about five years ago.

When I got back into cycling I’d forgotten everything about the training I used to do and most of my old ways were way out of date anyway.

I began constantly looking out for tips on how to lose weight, or do winter intervals and peak for certain events and so on.

I imagine not everyone would have this problem; I was playing catch up and basically trying to re-educate myself and not everyone is in that boat.

But I found I was taking little bits of advice that resonated with me and incorporating them into my daily routine and my training programme.

So I ended up with a little bit of this and a little bit of that rather than one really clear and focussed plan.

I actually quite enjoyed reading all of the coaching advice and I think that was part of the problem; any time I saw an article being shared on Twitter or Facebook I’d be all over it.

In the end I had far too much information coming at me. I’ve since opted for a coach and have shut most everything else out; one voice is a lot easier to follow.


Comparing myself to everyone else

Like most cyclists, a lot of the people I followed and interacted with on social media were cyclists too.

Between reading about what training they were doing in winter, their racing exploits in summer and mooching around their Strava I was constantly judging myself off other people.

I got back on the bike again purely to enjoy myself and partly because I was a bit out of shape. I had no performance goals.

And while at the beginning of coming back I wasn’t competitive at all about training, the more I went out on the bike, the more I compared myself to how everybody around me was getting on when I went on social media.

I would particularly look at the kind of sportives and the long weekend spins some of my club mates were taking on during the summer and question why I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as them.

I definitely found this pre-occupied me; I’d get distracted by the really long and challenging rides other were talking about online and it would more or less overshadow the shorter spins I was doing.

But now I just decide what I want to do and what I have time to do and go and do it.

And I’m not compromising my enjoyment levels by those constant comparisons with others that social media was pulling me into.

Not everyone would be like this of course, but I definitely found it a nuisance.


Getting to bed earlier

I’ve already touched on how I wind down easier and enjoy recovery more now that I don’t constantly have my nose in my phone and have my mind doing overtime on Facebook and Twitter.

And winding down before bed in the evening is the same; I find I’m much more relaxed and that I get to sleep immediately and sleep better as a result.

My better half was constantly telling me to have a screen curfew; a time at which to put down technology every evening and wind down before getting to bed.

If you asked me the biggest difference in my lifestyle since giving up on social media, I’d be split between the extra time I have on my hands and my better sleep quality.

But I’d just about say sleeping better is the bigger upside.

So even if you’re not going to follow me and pack in social media, I would definitely get into the habit of putting away all technology by, say, 9pm.

You’d be amazed how much easier it is to go to bed earlier and how much fresher you feel in the morning.


Being more social

I definitely have more time for my cycling buddies and am back to interacting with people on a quality (that is, normal) level again.

Before, when we went out training and went for a coffee I’d spend half of my time on the coffee stop with my nose in the phone.

And when we were away on weekends going to sportives it would be the same; everybody would have their nose in their phones at the dinner table or when having a few beers.

Most of the people I cycle with I only see at the weekends so I find you fit more quality interaction into the short time I spend with them.

And I think I’ve gotten to know more new people as a result of simply not being constantly engaged with social media on my phone.